You'd be surprised at what a few days backpacking can teach you about yourself, your relationships with others, and life. > WATCH
Making a difference.
In 2011, North Carolina Outward Bound School began a research partnership with faculty from Montreat College and Western Carolina University to gain a better understanding of the impact of NCOBS wilderness expeditions on our students.
From 2011 to 2013, Drs. Andrew Bobilya and Brad Faircloth collected and analyzed pre- and post-course surveys from 455 NCOBS open enrollment wilderness program students. Based on their analysis of the quantitative data, they concluded that students of all ages, both male and female, developed a greater sense of character as a direct result of their NCOBS course. These changes in character development were significant regardless of the length of the student’s course.
Results from the qualitative analysis of post-course surveys further support the impact of NCOBS wilderness courses on character development. The charts below capture what students discovered about themselves on course and how they predicted their course would enhance their ability to accomplish their goals in life.
The study confirms that positive character development occurs when students are given the opportunity to strive—to push themselves harder than they ever thought possible—to confront difficulty and to overcome it.
Why is this important? Because researchers are increasingly linking so-called “non cognitive” skills—skills associated with character—to success in both education and the workplace. Three-quarters of a century after Kurt Hahn founded the first Outward Bound school at Aberdovey, his philosophy of education could not be more relevant to what is needed today. The character education that is being re-emphasized in schools across the country—one that embraces resilience, tenacity and grit as keys to student success—is Hahn’s legacy. It is the bedrock of every Outward Bound experience.
Faircloth, W. B., Bobilya, A. J. & Montgomery, W. H. (2014, October). A confirmatory assessment of a new Outward Bound outcomes instrument. Paper presented at the Association for Experiential Education International Conference: Symposium on Experiential Education Research (SEER), Chattanooga, TN.
The percentage reported indicates the number of qualitative participant responses categorized within a specific theme as percentage of the total number of responses.
Heckman, James and Rubinstein, Yona. The Importance of Noncognitive Skills: Lessons from the GED Testing Program, 2001
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